FUNGUS MATTERS  by Anthony Carter

End of Year 2023

September to November should be the peak time for fungi. This year we had rain followed by rain and rain again. Because the weather was also warm, the undergrowth in woods remained in full leaf so searching for fungi was difficult, fungi relying on dead material.I paid a number of visits to Speke Hall, particularly the large North Lawn, expecting to find waxcaps and other grassland fungi but it was very disappointing. They probably succumbed to the wet weather. A similar story at Allerton Towers and Clarke Gardens where the waxcap count was also poor.

On the positive side at Speke Hall, I recorded a reasonable number of Amanita phalloides (Death Cap) a couple of Lycoperdon utriforme (Mosaic  Puffball) and a rare microfungus, Otidea phlebophorus. Only 5mm in size, it still shone out in a dark wood on a dull day.

Liverpool Springwood Crematorium produced a fruiting of Echinoderma asperum (Freckled Dapperling) under Cupressus and Russula nobilis (Beechwood Sickener) under Beech.

A quick look round Court Hey Park and a find of Aleuria aurantica (Orange Peel Fungus) indicated we were moving into winter. I also recorded Tricholoma scalpturatum (Yellowing Knight)

A visit to Allerton Library and a find of Inocybe posterula (Fibre Cap) under an ornamental conifer.

You just never know where or when fungi will appear. As evidence of this is, a root ball of a bamboo plant that I dug up two years ago but could not dispose of is now growing the hallucinogen Psilocybe cyanescens (Blueleg Brownie).

A rainy foray at Stanley Bank Wood, St Helens did not produce many species but did include Tricholoma scioides (Beeech Knight) and Inocybe petiginosa (Scurfy Fibrecap).

An ecosystem that does benefit from all the rainfall is the Sefton coast. A November foray at Ainsdale Sand Dunes Reserve produced 126 species including Tricholoma stiparophyllum and Roridomyces rorida (Dripping Bonnet), the colourful Tricholompsis rutilans (Plums and Custard,) and unusual Macrotyphula juncea (Slender Club).

If you can put up with the rain, Ainsdale is the place to go.